At Jaguar Preview, Guests Design Their Own Doughnuts, Cars

By Jenny Berg November 10, 2009, 8:00 AM EST

A display vehicle at Jaguar's cocktail reception

Photo: Mireya Acierto for BizBash

Jaguar's Reception to View the 2010 Jaguar XJ
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On Thursday night, Jaguar invited 200 existing and potential customers to a preview event for its 2010 XJ model at the Chicago Illuminating Company. At the raw venue, chefs prepared snacks at sleek, illuminated food stations. In one corner, DJ Michael Smith, whom Jaguar flew in from Los Angeles for the occasion, played modern remixes of classic songs such as “Stop in the Name of Love” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” In another corner, Food for Thought staffers presided over a design-your-own doughnut bar, where a couple of silver-haired guests displayed childlike enthusiasm for decorating their treats with colored sprinkles and chocolate swirls.

The scene underscored the brand's vision for the event, which was meant to “convey modern luxury and target our new customer, who is all about balancing work and play,” said Stephanie Dauble, national events manager for Jaguar cars. With the launch of the 2010 Jaguar XJ, ”we're revealing our new design DNA,” she said. “So in the past we've held events at more traditional venues, like country clubs.” But to launch this model, “we sought out spaces with clean lines and a modern feel." 

To facilitate product education at the reception, Jaguar brought two display XJ vehicles into the Illuminating Company—a ramp and a large side door at the venue made the process relatively painless, according to the brand's staffers—to let guests get behind the wheel and look under the hood. Along the wall of one room, a tool that Jaguar calls a Black Room Kit displayed samples of various interior leathers, carpets, wood inlays, and exterior color options. After choosing their favorite car trimmings, guests headed to computer stations to type in their selections and check out mock-up images of the Jaguars they had designed.

Dauble said that Jaguar's event standards prohibit any hard-sell tactics. “There's never a point where the event pauses and a company rep straps on a microphone and makes a speech,” she said. ”We know our customer is savvy. We're just here to let them check out the new models, enjoy themselves, and make decisions in their own time.”

The Chicago event marked the sixth stop in a seven-city XJ preview tour, which began in New York on October 8 and included stops in Los Angeles; Orange County, California; San Francisco; Miami; and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The tour wraps up on Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday.

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